Tag Archives: nursing

To Wean or Not to Wean

28 Jan

I honestly thought that I’d have no problem weaning Emma once she got close to a year old. I mean, think of the freedom! No longer would I have to be the one getting up at 5:30 am to feed Emma. Or staying up until she goes to bed. Or missing out on time with friends because I have to go nurse her in a different room (the nursing cover was given up on a LONG time ago). Or interrupting my work day to go pump in a room with as many as 6 other women (yes.).

I could start wearing regular bras again.

I wouldn’t have to tailor my wardrobe to what’s easiest to nurse in.

Oh and did I mention not having to pump anymore?

I’ve been thinking fairly seriously about weaning because I don’t really produce that much milk anymore. I pump twice a day at work and get 2-3 ounces each time. I’m guessing that Emma gets maybe 3-4 ounces when she nurses. I hate the thought of nursing and giving a bottle for each feeding, so I’ve just been nursing her on a 3-hour schedule still, plus 3 meals of solid foods a day. Before bedtime, I give Emma a 4-5 ounce bottle of formula, and then nurse her.

Emma seems content and is growing well, so I guess what we’re doing works. But then I think it would be so much easier and simpler to just be done with nursing. My goal was only to make it to a year anyway, because then Emma can have cow’s milk and not need expensive formula.

Faced with the actual reality of not nursing anymore, though, I realized that I’m not ready to give it up. I can’t put my finger on why but I just can’t get myself to pull the trigger. Part of it is that bottles are a lot more work – to make, clean, store, warm. Nursing is convenient. Emma has also stopped pulling off as much to look around and inspect things, so it’s less frustrating.

But I think most of it is that nursing is my bonding time with Emma. She’s never been a cuddler – these days, she barely wants to be held at all. She’s on the move! So nursing is a special thing.

Side note: The other night, Emma woke up and had a bad cough. She didn’t want to lay in my arms like usual, so I held her upright against me and she leaned her head on my chest – she hasn’t done that since she learned to hold her head up! It was 2 a.m. but I was in HEAVEN.

A day will come, though, when Emma no longer needs – or wants – to nurse. Then it will be on to the next stage in our relationship.

But that day is not today.

 

Emma is a whole new baby.

6 Jun

Greetings from Minnesota! Emma and I are spending the week at my parents’ house in Rochester – without daddy (Travis)! It’s been going well but we miss him like crazy.

Almost 2 weeks have gone by since I posted Emma’s 7 Week update and things have changed a lot in that time – for the better!

Right before we left for Minnesota 2 weeks ago, I took Emma back to the lactation consultant. A friend had pointed out the clicking she does while eating – I knew she clicked a lot, but she had done it since birth, even when latched correctly, so I had dismissed it. But since I have been trying everything and anything to help Emma be more comfortable, I figured re-visiting the lactation consultant to ask about it couldn’t hurt.

I was able to make an appointment for the same day I called and Emma cooperated by clicking while I nursed her at the lactation consultant’s office. The lady said that Emma was latched correctly, her palate was fine, she wasn’t tongue-tied, and that the clicking sounded like her way of compensating for too fast of a milk flow. She suggested nursing her in a different hold than the football hold so that the milk wouldn’t go straight down her throat. The position she suggested had me recline quite a bit and lay Emma on her stomach diagonally across my torso (like the cross-cradle hold, only more reclined). She said I could also use the scissor hold to slow down the flow of milk, break the suction to relatch Emma if she just kept clicking and to keep burping her frequently.

It took several sessions for me to get used to nursing Emma a different way, and I was tempted to not change how I was nursing her as a result, but I reminded myself that if I was willing to give up all the foods I loved (including my beloved coffee) to help Emma, why wouldn’t I be willing to change how I nurse her? So I stuck with it.

And I am so glad I did because that was the answer! After just a few feedings, Emma stopped crying after eating. Instead, she was alert and happy. She also started burping a lot more regularly. She still cries before falling asleep almost every time (because she’ll go from happy and smiling to crying in about 30 seconds) but it’s a very manageable amount of crying, and she’s alert and happy for at least 30-45 minutes before needing a nap. Several of Travis’ relatives commented that Emma didn’t seem to cry any more than a normal baby, which made me happy.

We’ve stopped giving her the acid reflux medication (we kept forgetting and I noticed that Emma was still fine) and I’ve slowly been introducing dairy back into my diet – starting with the most necessary morning cup of joe! Emma’s improvements have stayed consistent – praise the Lord!

I do have to be very mindful of how I nurse Emma now, which means no more reading or blogging during that time (I’ve tried and always ended up regretting it). And it takes her 45-60 minutes to nurse now instead of 20-30 like before. But those sacrifices are worth it to have a happy baby! And I’m sure those things will get better in time.

I’m still pumping about 2-3 oz (1-1.5 per side) before feeding Emma following her longest stretch of sleep at night, so that she’s not completely inundated – and it works out well because then I have a bottle stash built up. I also burp her 3-4 times per feeding, so that the air she swallows doesn’t get trapped under a bunch of milk.

Nighttime sleep is still a little hit or miss – some nights, she sleeps well for 5-6 hours straight but other nights, she only goes 4 hours. And after that first nighttime feeding around 3 am, she usually grunts a lot and only sleeps for another 2 hours. We try to burp and fart her but it doesn’t always seem to help.

Regardless, Emma is doing a million times better now than before. I feel like we’ve really turned a corner. I am so thankful that it was a relatively easy fix – and that we’ve finally figured it out! Thanks to all those who prayed for us.

See you tomorrow for Emma’s 2-Month update!

Breastfeeding So Far

18 Apr

Since nursing Emma takes up a lot of my time these days, I thought I’d talk about how things are going, what has worked well and what hasn’t.

As I mentioned before, Emma wasn’t interested in nursing right away due to all the air and amniotic fluid that she had ingested during birth. After we got that out, she was a lot more interested in nursing, and started nursing for about 20-45 minutes per breast the second day, and 10-30 minutes per breast the third day. She was still pretty sleepy so I was waking her up to eat every 2-3 hours, which was sometimes a little challenging.

Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, my milk came in. I don’t think I experienced engorgement per se – I just noticed that my breasts were very full and hard, and I started leaking milk easily. Emma’s feedings started to last around 15 minutes per side (once she was able to get properly latched despite my fullness). Since Emma had low intermediate jaundice levels, I made sure to keep waking her about every 3 hours, even if she would’ve slept longer, because feeding and peeing/pooping helps clear jaundice up faster, and her weight loss had been mildly concerning (8.5% down).

At first, breastfeeding was very painful. Emma is a ‘barracuda baby’ with a very strong suck, and before she learned what to do, she wouldn’t open her mouth wide enough for me to get a proper latch. The lactation consultants didn’t work on Sunday, so I was flying blind all day Sunday and Sunday night. The next day, one of the nurses noticed that I had a couple of ‘hickies’ – places where Emma hadn’t latched correctly – which could turn into painful sores. I got a lot of help and advice on Monday in the hospital, which was great and very appreciated.

Emma latches like a pro now, and most breastfeeding sessions feel completely fine and not painful at all. But every once in a while, Emma latches on and it’s painful for the first 30 seconds or so, until my nipples get re-used to everything.

Emma hasn’t settled into a schedule yet – the time she goes between feedings and how long she feeds varies constantly. At first, I was setting an alarm clock so that I’d get up when I needed to feed Emma, but since I’ve been getting in at least 8 feedings per day, and Emma has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, I’ve started letting her determine when to feed during the night.

The night before last, she slept for 3 hours between feedings (4 hours from start to start), but then last night, she woke up every 2. Sometimes she nurses for 30 minutes on each side, other times just 10. The shorter she nurses during a session, the more frequently she wants to nurse. Today, I’ve been nursing her about every 2 hours (from start time to start time) because she’s only been nursing for about 10 minutes each side. But I’ve also noticed that the more she nurses during the day, the less frequent she nurses at night. So we’re still just figuring things out.

One of the most noticeable things about breastfeeding is how hungry it makes me. I swear, marathon training runger is nothing compared to this! My appetite is probably influenced by my being up at all hours of the day and night, but I am eating more now than I did during pregnancy, or during marathon training. I’m not complaining. 😉

Gear

Because nursing was so painful for the first few days, I was desperate for something to help. I tried the cold breast gel pads but they didn’t seem to help me much. My lifesaver has been Medela Tender Care Lanolin.

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I try to remember to apply this after every feeding, and after I shower – I can definitely tell when I’ve forgotten. I think it helps keep my nipples hydrated, so that it doesn’t hurt as much for them to be pulled on. Just a note that the lanolin does seem to leave a residue on bras, so I recommend using it in conjunction with nursing pads.

Speaking of which, I’ve been using the Lansinoh nursing pads and they have been working well.

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They have sticky pads on the back so that they stick to your bra, but if you didn’t want to use the sticky parts, you could just leave the paper on. Some nursing bras have little pockets built in to hold nursing pads, so the sticky parts aren’t as necessary.

Another thing that has been a huge help is the My Brest Friend pillow.

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Since my breasts have been pretty full while waiting for my breast pump to come, I have been nursing Emma pretty much exclusively using the football hold. This pillow works well for that, since the clip keeps it in place around my waist and it supports Emma. It’s also pretty firm, so it’s a good burping surface and doubles as a good pillow to rest my arm on (when it’s not around my waist) as I rock Emma to sleep.

The breast pump I ended up getting is the Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump – my insurance didn’t cover the Medela one I had wanted. The lactation consultant told me that the Ameda pump is a good pump, it just doesn’t last as long or stand up to as much use as the Medela does.

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The version I got didn’t come with a carry bag, but I found one that will work well for $11 at Walmart. It also only comes with 2 collection bottles, so I might look into getting a couple more, or I might just use regular bottles to store the expressed milk in.

I’ve used the pump twice so far, and been able to express 2 oz total – about 1 feeding for Emma at this point. We’ve also tried to introduce bottles, but so far have been pretty unsuccessful. Emma isn’t that sure about the rubber nipple, and any milk that she has ingested has promptly been spit back up in massive quantities. I think she’s swallowing too much air, so we might be on the hunt for a different bottle style (we have been using the Tommee Tippee bottles).

I bought a couple of nursing bras from The Nursing Nook shop at the hospital. One of the bras was pretty expensive ($60) and I’m not completely sold on it, so I think I’m going to return it and keep looking. But nursing bras are definitely the way to go – it’s so easy to just pull up your shirt, unhook the clasp and fold down the front! I’ll probably get some nursing tanks once I go back to work as well. Unfortunately, my breasts have grown yet another cup size, which means I’ll most likely have to buy bigger sports bras too. Bras are so expensive!

Last but not least, I’ve used my nursing cover a few times, but it is definitely tricky to do so without showing what I’m trying to keep covered. It’s also a little tricky to see what I’m doing – I think it’ll be easier with an older child who has better neck control and needs less assistance from mommy.

Anyway, that’s my breastfeeding experience so far. It’s exhausting, but going well. I know that a lot of women have challenging experiences with nursing, so I’m definitely very blessed.